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One jab of measles vaccine more likely to be ineffective in children born by C-section: Study

New research suggests that children born via C-section may have a higher chance of the double-dose measles vaccine failing to provide full protection. The study emphasises the long-term impact of the birth method on immunity.

Written By: Rahul Pratyush @29_pratyush New Delhi Published on: May 15, 2024 13:21 IST
Measles vaccine
Image Source : FREEPIK Measles vaccine less effective in kids born by C-section

New research suggests that children born via C-section may have a significantly higher chance of the double-dose measles vaccine failing to provide full protection, compared to those born naturally. This failure occurs when the vaccine doesn't stimulate the production of antibodies needed to combat measles infection, leaving the child vulnerable to the disease. One potential explanation for this ineffectiveness could be related to the development of the infant's gut microbiome, as studies indicate that vaginal birth introduces a wider array of microbes from the mother to the baby, potentially enhancing the infant's immune response.

The study by the University of Cambridge, UK, and Fudan University, China, also found that the second measles dose induced a robust immunity against the viral disease in children born by caesarean or C-section, which involves making a cut in the mother's abdomen and uterus for delivering the baby.

"We've discovered that the way we're born -- either by C-section or natural birth -- has long-term consequences on our immunity to diseases as we grow up," Henrik Salje from the University of Cambridge​'s Department of Genetics and joint senior author of the study published in the journal Nature Microbiology, said.

Measles is an acute and highly contagious viral disease, occurring primarily in children.

Symptoms can include a high fever, cough, runny nose and a rash all over the body.
Being vaccinated with two doses is the best way to avoid getting sick and spreading the disease, according to the World Health Organization.

Using data from previous studies of over 1,500 children in Hunan, China, the researchers found that 12 per cent of the children born via C-section had no immune response to their first measles vaccination, compared to 5 per cent of the children born by vaginal delivery.

The researchers said that a lot of children do not end up getting their second measles jab, which can be dangerous for them and for the wider population.

"Infants born by C-section are the ones we really want to be following up to make sure they get their second measles jab because their first jab is much more likely to fail," Salje said.

Increasingly, women around the world are giving birth by C-section because of which children are not exposed to the mother's microbiome in the same way as in a vaginal birth, the researchers said.

"We think this means they take longer to catch up in developing their gut microbiome and with it, the ability of the immune system to be primed by vaccines against diseases including measles," said Salje.

(with PTI inputs)

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